Centrists are not the heroes we deserve, but the heroes we need.
In a time of increasing polarization in politics the main target of both poles are the centrists. The terms “Rino” or the calls to Martin Luther King Jr.’s letter from Birmingham jail are often employed to urge a sense of shame in individuals who do not want to partake in this phenomenon of political polarization. However we need more people to stand up for the political ideologies in the middle, similarly to the McCain family.
Most people who do not identify as conservative or liberal want to avoid entering the cross-hairs of the partisan drones. These individuals hold their own beliefs and often find the harsh, confrontational nature of modern politics to be quite distasteful. They don’t want to be bothered with the stressful arguments that often end with negative interactions or negative implications for their relationship with an individual whom they disagree with. After all does it matter if your crazy uncle believes the government is running a conspiracy to sterilize the population by using vaccines?
The issue however is that these people are largely the silent majority upon whom our society depends upon. They are quite literally the glue between the left and the right, and they are the people who’s voices are never heard on the vast majority of mass media platforms. These are the people who voted for Trump over Clinton, and who will not support a socialist candidate. These are also the same people who voted for Obama because they believed in a message of change. While the democrats are arguing for social issues and supporting social causes they are ignoring serious economic questions. After all, the Green new deal is just a bunch of fluff with no operative clauses and would not be economically wise either. On the other hand, the republican party is lead by a morally compromised president who stands to harm the United States standing with its allies, and employs questionable tactics which often are inexplicable, such as pulling out of the Paris Agreement.
This divide can only be healed by a political candidate who fosters a spirit of willingness to reach across the aisle and compromise with individuals who may not share common ideologies. This is best exemplified in Dan Crenshaw’s classy response to Saturday Night Live or Democrat Joe Manchin’s endorsement of Susan Collins. It may be difficult to get fired up over a moderate centrist candidate, and even more difficult to strongly defend a candidate that does not rally for our every desire, a candidate who might be willing to sacrifice some of the positions we support in order to strike a compromise, but that is the kind of candidate we need. Joe Biden, Tim Ryan, and John Kasich may be significantly more boring than Donald Trump, but they speak to the hearts of the majority of Americans. They do not invoke polarizing and extreme feelings because their policies feel fair to the losing side. The United States is a republic first and a democracy second. This means that we should seek the most well reasoned candidate, not the most popular one. In a country where polarity is dividing the nation and leading to increasingly radical legislation that challenges well established norms, it may be important to elect a leader with temperament. So let’s all get excited for compromise and slow progressive change! Yay!
The necessity of moderate centrists to be vocal cannot be understated. When the political conversation is dominated by the extremists in each direction, the majority views will shift accordingly. Although moderates may not like it, now is the time for them to act and the time when their impact will be the most meaningful. Almost every administration in the past twenty years has had some sort of investigation by a bureaucratic unelected agency. Conservatives are still calling for Clinton’s imprisonment while the anti-Trump crowd insists on impeachment proceedings despite no hard evidence of a high crime or treason. Is this going to be the norm for America? Calling for investigation and impeachment of the elected candidate we don’t support? The complacency of moderates is in failing to voice opposition to the present status quo, and embrace the legitimacy of our democratic institutions.